According to WWF water policy officer Sergey Moroz, the Commission’s delayed proposal, which was published yesterday (January 31), fails to specify when and how existing EU policies, such as regulation on chemicals or pesticides legislation, should be used to control water pollution.

As part of the Commission’s proposals, it is planning to extend the current list to include substances ranging from industrial and household chemicals to pesticides and for the first time pharmaceuticals, which can end up in surface waters as a result of manufacturing and agricultural processes.

It also proposes phasing out and banning most hazardous chemicals from the EU market, as well as setting strict water concentration limits on other listed chemicals.

The revised list would then form part of a directive amending the Water Framework Directive and Environmental Quality Standards Directive and member states would have until 2021 to meet the new quality standards.

Environment Commissioner Janez Potoènik said: “Water pollution is one of the environmental worries most frequently cited by EU citizens. I welcome this advance as it is clearly answering people’s expectations. These 15 additional chemicals need to be monitored and controlled to ensure they don’t pose a risk to the environment or human health.”

However, Mr Moroz warned that “without clear timelines and triggers for action under related legislation, the EU will fail to stop discharges, emissions and losses of hazardous chemicals, as required by the Water Framework Directive as well as EU’s international commitments.

“The presence of highly hazardous chemicals in our waters is a serious threat to aquatic life and human health. The European Parliament and EU ministers will have to strengthen today’s proposal to make European waters safe and healthy.”

As a result, WWF is calling for the updated list of new emerging pollutants to be improved.

WWF senior policy officer chemicals/water Ninja Reineke, said: “There are hundreds of toxic chemicals out there, posing a potential threat to European waters and human health. Currently monitoring is done only on a very limited number of substances. This needs to be expanded to address new risky pollutants.”

The proposal has now been forwarded to the EU Council of Ministers and the European Parliament for consideration.

Carys Matthews

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